The past few months has seen a good hash of people writing insensitive, cruel, or just plain stupid messages on restaurant receipts and refusing to tip. As the story usually goes, the server who gets the shaft will post the message on a social media site, and then the wonderful world of the internet will convene to unleash a powerful and vengeful storm of righteous amusement on the newest social pariah. All good fun and games.
But the latest instance of pure, unadulterated Christian Love is already threatening to outstrip them all.
Down in Overland Park Kansas, that paradise of love and Christian virtue, a young waiter, a kid really, was serving a Christian couple in Carrabba’s Italian Grill. When they handed him the receipt after their meal, he found this personal and inspirational message left for him. As WTVM reports:
“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Fags do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your faggot choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for fags. May GOD have mercy on you.”
Such grace. Such love.
I think what angers me the most out of this is that the server in question is a twenty year old man. Basically, he’s still a kid. I’m only a few years older than that, but I’m sure that most of you remember what that age was like, if only vaguely. You’re a couple years out of high school. You’re at university or you’ve been in the work force for a couple years. You’ve finally made it out into the real world and discovered that, while there are nasty and cruel people out there, the world is in general a more accepting and tolerable place than high school made it out to be.
And then two adults come along with a mature and reasoned ‘Nah nah, we’re not going to tip you, faggot. Because Jesus.’
Understandably, many in the community and around the area are rallying to this young man’s defense, determined to balance out one act of hatred with a thousand of kindness. Good for them. It’s good to see that Kansas does in fact have people with class, and quite a few of them. But do you know what? That doesn’t take the sting away. Not at all. It doesn’t take away the hurt that those words caused. It doesn’t erase the knowledge that there are people out there who hate you – intrinsically hate you – just because of who you are and whom you love. That stays. It’s the piece of shrapnel that lodges in Tony Stark’s chest, and even though he turns it into a source of strength, the fact that it’s a wound will never go away.
And for this young man, the hatred he faced that night will never go away. Every time he sees a cross the message will come back to him. Every time he passes a church building, he will know that it’s filled with people who see him as subhuman and not even worthy of the basics of human decency. He will continue with his life knowing that the beast could rear its head at any time. That’s the world he lives in. That’s the world we live in. Where anything is not only tolerable in the name of Christian Love, but seen as righteous.
We’ve all heard the saying uttered piously by Christians that we should ‘love the sinner but hate the sin.’ Usually it’s said right before saying something incredibly hateful, bigoted, or racist. It’s sort of a catch-all, a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card that a Christian can use in order to say whatever hurtful, demeaning things they want. Does anyone really believe that Christianity is about love? Did anyone see the love in what these two individuals did? It simply wasn’t there. It was a cold, calculated attempt to harass, mock, and shame a young man who did nothing but offer excellent service. In fact, the quality of his service was something that the Christian couple admitted to right off, as if tearing open the wound so that they could better salt it.
I’ve now written two articles in rather quick succession about gay rights and the treatment of LGBT people by Christians in America. And I’m sure there are more to come. Because despite what Fox News or Breitbart.com will tell you about the radical homosexual agenda, it’s painfully obvious to anyone with eyes that LGBT people are still on the wrong side of the walls of Jericho in this nation. They’re not the only ones of course. But I don’t think that any other demographic of individuals has to deal with the stinking, vile hatred that comes out of the Christian community masquerading as ‘love.’
In the extremely unlikely event that the two individuals in question see this, I offer my sincere thanks. You are doing more for atheism – and by extension civility and acceptance – than you could have imagined.
To the individuals rallying behind this young man, I offer my sincere thanks. It’s acts of kindess and tenderness and compassion and love that change the world. Not self-righteous prayers on the back of a receipt. Any one can show love. But only a Christian is capable of such a vile definition of ‘love.’